Thailand’s Central Group has made its maiden foray into Singapore’s already bustling retail scene, setting up two Manchester United merchandise shops. This could be the start of more inroads into the local retail industry by the group, explained Central Group executive director Pichai Chirathivat. He told The Straits Times: ‘We would like to bring in our own house brands. We would like to be careful first, maybe open one or two brands first.

Then you know whether there’s chemistry and after that you can expand fast.’ Pichai was in town recently to attend the launch of Maybank Singapore’s Manchester United Visa card. He is the chief executive of Central Marketing Group (CMG), the marketing and trading arm of the Central Group of Companies – one of South-east Asia’s biggest retail and property conglomerates. The first outlet began business at Marina Bay Sands in December last year, while the second outlet opened its doors at Citylink Mall in March this year. Both were started at a cost of some US$500,000 (S$628,000).

Pichai explained that the first shop was targeted mainly at the tourist dollar, while the second was aimed at the local shoppers. CMG has a license from the English football club to design and manufacture their own Manchester United merchandise to cater to Asian sizes and tastes. Singaporeans who frequent Bangkok and Thailand will be familiar with the Central Group.

Apart from running department stores all over Thailand, the group is also a prominent player in the country’s real estate, hotel and restaurant scene. The franchises run by the group in Thailand include Watsons, Office Depot and Marks and Spencer. It is also the sole agent or authorized distributor in Thailand for consumer brands such as Clarins, Casio, FCUK and Samsonite.

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